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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Polishing Your Sample Pages

Please welcome guest blogger Fleur Bradley

If you’re ready to query agents, you’ve probably seen this guideline:

Send query by email, with the first five pages pasted in the body.

Seems easy enough, right? You’ve polished your query letter, you’ve edited your manuscript—you’re good to go.

But have you thought about what those sample pages really say about your novel? Take a moment to step back, close your eyes, and forget all about your manuscript (this is tough, especially after you’ve been working on it forever—but roll with me on this one). Now read your query and your sample pages as if you were an agent receiving that email. Does it make you want to read on? Because it should—otherwise you’ll just get a quick form rejection.

It gets really good on page 22, writers often argue. Not good enough. Imagine a potential reader, browsing the bookstore. She picks up your book (it has a great, enticing cover), and she opens to read the first few pages. Those need to hook her, right? Same goes for that agent or editor you’re querying: they’re your first readers.

But I’m sending my first fifty pages—by request after meeting at a conference. Congratulations! Your pitch was successful—that’s something to be really proud of. Now imagine your favorite agent or editor going home after meeting tons of people, and then getting your query letter and sample pages. She remembers you and your pitch (you’re a memorable person, and you had a nice chat about your favorite books), and begins to read. Here’s the thing: she still starts with those first five pages, and if those aren’t perfect, she may not even read the rest. It’s a sad truth, but agents and editors only have so much time, and after conferences, they get a wave of queries and samples.

Bottom line: your first five pages need to sing.

Before you panic, there’s help. I’m running a two-week workshop for FF&P, Polishing Your Sample Pages. We’ll cover how to get those first five pages to shine, from character introduction, conflict, cliffhanger endings, and even formatting for those email queries.

So join us! It’ll be fun, I promise, and you’ll get those opening pages in the best shape they can be.

Polishing Your Sample Pages, presented by Fleur Bradley, runs from July 5, 2011 through July 18, 2011

Fleur Bradley (writing as F.T. Bradley) recently found a home for her middle-grade series featuring Lincoln Baker with Harper Children's--look for DOUBLE VISION, the first book, in 2013. Find her on the web at www.fleurbradley.com.

Many of Fleur's short stories have appeared online and in print, in places like Discount Noir, The Thrilling Detective, Shred of Evidence, Versal and Stories for Children. Fleur is originally from the Netherlands, and now lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and too many cats.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Inspiration from Research

Please welcome guest blogger Crista McHugh

Have you ever sat down to research something only to be attacked by a giant plot bunny? We’re talking plot bunnies of the horrible creature from Monty Python and the Holy Grail magnitude. The ones that leave your current WIP dripping blood like King Arthur’s knights.

As paranormal/fantasy/futuristic writers, we may not be as familiar with research as our historical brethren, but it’s amazing what story ideas you can find when digging into good ol’ fashioned research. For example, I’m sure most of us have read some myths or legends to get ideas for our story. My Steampunk Western, The Alchemy of Desire, was inspired by Lakota myth. We probably “borrow” ideas from Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Dracula more than we realize. And these are natural places for use to find inspiration from our research.

But what about those odd things that we stumble across? For example, do any of you get bombarded by plot bunnies when you see a picture of the Cave of the Giant Crystals? (and no, this is NOT Superman’s secret lair)

I actually got inspired to write Kiss of Temptation from a documentary on the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii. The archeologists were examining the bones of the victims in Herculaneum and theorized that most of the victims had been burned alive. Of course, my twisted brain went, “How cool is that!” and immediately created a vampire character that was terrified of being caught in the sun and burned alive (because my vampires don’t glitter like disco balls – sorry Team Edward).

What were some of the more unusual things that inspired your stories? A coin? An outfit? A news article that made you go, “What if…?”

Growing up in small-town Alabama, Crista relied on storytelling as a natural way for her to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.

She currently lives in the Seattle area with her husband and daughter, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends. Her writing has won more than 20 awards.

Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she's had in order to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant and autopsy assistant.

And she's also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days.)

For the latest updates and to learn more, please check out her webpage at www.cristamchugh.com.

Kiss of Temptation

She was sent to make him burn…

The Kavanaugh Foundation, Book 3

It takes a witch to outwit another witch, so when Daniela finds herself in the catacombs of Rome intent on retrieving the legendary Staff of Octavius, she’s prepared to wield her innate fire magic to claim the staff and keep it—and its overwhelming power—from getting into the wrong hands.

All her Foundation training, however, never prepared her for Luc.

One breath of her scent is enough to reawaken a thirst Luc hasn’t felt in six hundred years. It’s enough to make him almost forget his vow to keep the staff out of the wrong hands—and to never give in to his bloodlust. The moment he touches Daniela, the last shreds of his humanity revive with a violent fury and drive him to claim her…blood, body and soul.

He’s her enemy. He’s arrogant and infuriatingly secretive. And his kiss makes her want things she shouldn’t—like abandoning her mission to spend eternity in his arms. Crossing that line, though, could not only send them up in flames…it could condemn all mankind to hell on earth.

Product Warnings

Contains a smolderingly hot (literally!) witch, a sexy, brooding vampire, wild sex you want to sink your teeth into, and a sensually charged romance that spans several lifetimes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Plotting My Way Through Worlds With Post-it® Notes

Please welcome guest blogger Cara Carnes

I’m a Post-it® note addict. Anyone who knows me knows that I have not one, but two drawers of assorted sizes and colors of the wondrous creations. Over the past three years I’ve wrestled my fetish into a usable tool for creating not only the plots for my books, but also my character arcs and, more importantly, my worlds.

Let’s face it. We can have the most compelling character with a traumatic past and a harrowing mission, but if they are cast within a cardboard backdrop there’s a strong chance a reader will lose interest at some point. For me as a reader, it’s always been critical that I become fully immersed within the character’s world.

Thus began my obsession with what I call world boards. Think of this as a plotting board on steroids. And--for all the pantsers out there hyperventilating at the thought of this--rest assured. IMHO they work just as well if you create them after the book is written. They are merely a tool to ensure that the final product is everything you’d envisioned in terms of plot, characterization and world development.

So, what’s on my board?

I’m sure we’ve all heard of and experimented with assorted deviations on plotting boards. I’ve tried them all with varying degrees of success. This is merely what I’ve created over the years and what works best for me. So, begin with a basic foundation for your board. I structure mine with a space for each chapter. I prefer project boards because they are easily reusable and a bit sturdier than poster board. And, if you aren’t a fan of the Post-it® like I am, an assortment of colored markers will work just as well. This is what I place on mine:
    1. The Plot - For me, I’ve found it best to use one color of sticky note (or marker color) for each plot or subplot within the book. This helps me identify in the end which subplots may have been inadvertently dropped, or otherwise dismissed at some point during the book. For me, it also helps identify which chapters may be sagging.

    1. The Primary Characters - (i.e. the hero and heroine). I give them their own color of sticky notes simply to denote their overall story arc. While each chapter should have a GMC, I prefer to keep track of the hero’s and heroine’s internal and external growth, development and resolution through the book.

    1. The World - Let me preface this section with a note about what I mean by “world.” I do this portion for only the world elements I feel are critical and unique within my book. Any information pertaining to the world which is conveyed to the reader is put on the “world” color Post-it® and added to the character that shows the reader that morsel within the chapter. Since information dumps are passé, I think it is important to spoon feed your world as it pertains to the POV character within each scene. This adds depth to the world if done throughout the book. Readers don’t need to know everything about a world up front, but it is important to know what information they need to know in order to grasp any underlying conflicts that may occur later on in the book.

And IMHO all world information should be presented through the lens of that POV character. Not every character within the world will have the same viewpoint on whatever the fact may be. But it must be presented through the eyes of a POV character.

For example, in a paranormal ST I just completed, the assorted paranormal beings are within a hierarchical structure and the hero is within the highest faction. There are quite a few issues because of this within my book. But one law is that no one shall feed their blood to a human or any paranormal faction beneath them.

I knew this all along. But the reader didn’t. In the book, the hero does exactly that to save the heroine’s life. I kept writing as if it was understood that this was a huge issue. It was only after doing the world portion of the board that I realized the reader had no context with which to have that “Oh crud!” moment I’d intended for them to have because I hadn’t shown that particular world element to them earlier on in the work.

The solution? I rewrote a scene toward the beginning in the hero’s POV to show him dealing with someone else who had violated this creed. This, hopefully, not only enabled the reader to see and understand the law early on, but to see how important it was to the hero. And then later on, demonstrate how crucial the heroine was to him later on, thus reinforcing their arc.

So there you have it. My very abbreviated interpretation of a plotting board. May you have as much fun with Post-it® Notes as I do and may you create worlds which will absorb the reader and make them never want to leave.

Happy writing!

Born in small-town Texas, Cara Carnes was a princess, a pirate, fashion model, actress, rock star and Jon Bon Jovi’s wife all before the age of 13.

In reality, her fascination for enthralling worlds took seed somewhere amidst a somewhat dull day job and a wonderful life filled with family and friends. When she’s not cemented to her chair, Cara loves travelling, photography and reading.

Passion Next Door

Come play with me.

Autumn Scott succumbs to temptation and journeys to The Brigade─a private BDSM resort─for another naughty weekend with sexy neighbor Kade Berges. She expects another chance to explore her fantasies, but finds herself wanting more when Kade and his three friends push her boundaries and welcome her into their world.

Kade Berges hadn’t intended to share more than a few nights of passion with his insatiable New York neighbor, but thanks to meddling friends he finds himself unwilling to accept anything less than Autumn’s full submission. Whether she’s ready remains to be seen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

18 Lessons Learned on the Road to Publishing My First Book

Please welcome guest blogger Berinn Rae

  1. Friends who understand what it’s like to be a writer are worth their weight in gold.
  1. The first page is important, but so are the other three hundred pages.
  1. Fingerless gloves keep typing hands warm in the winter months.
  1. Reward yourself often. Chocolate, walks, naps—anything goes as long as it works for you.
  1. Use Post-it® tabs to bookmark pages in your favorite book on writing. They don’t fall out and aren’t mean to books like dog-ears.
  1. Some advice is good. Some isn’t. If you change your story to match every critique, you’ll lose your unique voice. Then again, if you see a recurring theme in critiques, listen.
  1. Take time to read a new book or re-read an old favorite.
  1. Write naked if you feel like it. Ambience and a comfortable workspace are key to getting into the writing mood. Music, water fountains, candles … use whatever works for you.
  1. Splurge on a nice pen. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.
  1. Rely on yourself. Don’t rely on your muse. She’s a moody temptress who will take a vacation when you crave her most.
  1. If you want to be a writer, then write. Treat it like a (totally awesome) job. Write at least five days a week.
  1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Don’t rush queries and synopses. Yes, they’re evil, but they’re also the agent’s first impression of your work.
  1. Learn to hurry up and wait. When an agent asks for a partial, send it today. Then be patient.
  1. Go for a walk. Inspiration needs oxygen.
  1. Like drinks, some genres are better blended. Write what you love, regardless of genre—or mix of genres. Today’s slowest selling genre may be tomorrow’s biggest craze.
  1. Follow the rules. Then, break the rules when it makes sense to strengthen your story. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur said it best: “You are remembered for the rules you break.”
  1. Chase your dreams. You’ll achieve them if you 1) work hard and 2) have faith in yourself.
  1. Writers are expected to self-promote their work. So, go to your local book store and check out my debut novel, KNIGHTFALL. I’d love you for it.

Berinn Rae writes steamy urban fantasy focused on extraordinary women. She lives in the Midwest with her husband who exudes awesomeness and an incredibly spoiled dog. A nomadic spirit with a license to fly, she is always in search of new adventures and happy endings.


Life is relatively normal for bush pilot Kerra Cain. That is, until a fallen angel reveals himself, with plans to use her to destroy the Seven Seals. To escape, she must place her trust in the arms of Gareth, a dangerously sexy but enigmatic man who has haunted her dreams for years. Thrown into a desperate war for survival, Kerra must embrace a heritage long denied her in Knightfall, the passionate first tale of the Guardians of the Seven Seals, a romantic fantasy series about innocence lost and heroes forged in a time where a supernatural war threatens to consume the world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Evolution of an Alien Species

Please welcome guest blogger KC Burn

‘Write what you know’ is phrase that’s tossed around writing communities with great regularity. In my opinion, there’s an issue when people take it too literally. I’ve seen recent complaints about how many authors are protagonists in books. This is a classic ‘write what you know’ scenario. We as writers know what that career path is like, even if we only engage in it part-time, which makes it an easy fall-back position when choosing a career for your characters.

I have a book that will never see the light of day, where the main character is a pharmacy technician because I used to be one, once upon a time. Now, I made use of that, since my character ended up solving a mystery where someone was killed using a little-known drug interaction, but frankly, the occupation is boring to do and probably more boring to read about. I fell into the ‘write what you know’ trap.

Usually, I expound on this topic when people ask how I can write about two men romantically involved -- the boiled down answer is… I‘ve had sex with a man… extrapolate… Not all writers have experiences as serial killers or abuse victims or astronauts or undercover agents or SEALS. In fact I’d venture that very few of them have any of those experiences. Clearly, those topics are not off limit, so where exactly does ‘write what you know’ come in, especially when we go beyond what we can find from Google, Wikipedia, interviews etc. into the fantastic, the futuristic, the paranormal?

Right now, I’m working on an alien/human erotic romance, a sequel to Spice ‘n‘ Solace from Carina Press (http://bit.ly/fL2efv). In SnS, I introduce an alien race, which I need to further develop in the sequel in order to make the relationship believable. The biggest hurdle thus far is that I believe when we encounter alien life, I don’t think they will look humanoid, nor will we be sexually attracted to them, assuming we could even get the right bits to rub up together. So… how am I going to get this to work? For that matter, how am I giving the alien race the evolutionary history to develop into a humanoid form and still provide the elements I need for the plot I’m working on?

Well, that’s where I’m incorporating what I know. I have a degree with a double major in physical anthropology and biology. I studied evolution, osteology, paleontology, anatomy and animal behaviour among other things. I drew tiny bits from each of those disciplines, starting with carbon-based life forms who reproduce sexually, to create an alien life form that began as a quadrupedal creature similar to ankylosaurs and became bipedal explorers of the universe.

I admit, I use the concept of convergent evolution as a bit of a bandage that I slap over some gaping leaps in the development of similar sexual organs and reproductive strategies. I used a patchwork of concepts from various species and animal behaviours, and combined them into what I hope is cohesive whole, a species capable of evolution, capable of developing an empire engaged in space travel… and interested in boinking humans. *grin*

So, no, I know nothing about alien species, but I used things I do know how to develop what I hope is a believable species. This is not the only way, of course, but it’s the way that works for me. One of the things I learned along the way is yes, ‘write what you know’, but it doesn’t have to be too literal. The gorgeous eyes of a stranger on a subway, the abandoned lot that sits amidst the skyscrapers, the weird neighbour who lives down the hall, the nostalgia of our first love, the pain of losing someone, psychology class, art classes… these are the things we know, these are things we can use to make our stories relatable to everyone. Let me know if you’ve got anything special you draw on to influence your stories.

KC Burn: I’ve been writing for what feels like my whole life. I’m a sucker for a happy ending (get your mind out of the gutters!) so it’s been romance almost all the way. Recently moved from Canada to Florida with my husband and cats, and shortly thereafter discovered a love of writing gay romance – the hotter the better. Who knew?

Writing is always fun, despite the hard work, but writing about my guys is more fun than I’ve had in a long time. Love between consenting adults is a beautiful thing, and should be celebrated, regardless of sexual orientation.

Spice 'n' Solace

The Galactic Alliance’s most important negotiator, Jathan One-Moon, is responsible for ensuring the yearly negotiations with the Ankylos are successful. If he fails and the Ankylos go to war, the human race will likely be exterminated. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s under pressure to marry and produce an heir. When he mistakes the brothel owner, Kazha Deinos, for his escort prior to the negotiations, the resulting evening makes Jathan realize his life is missing a man who can be a true partner to him.

Kaz never met his most important client, and Jathan’s misconception allows Kaz the freedom to give in to desires he’s never let himself indulge in before. But Kaz has a business to run, one that a rival is trying to steal, which will force him to reveal his true identity to Jay. There’s also the little issue of Jathan’s impending marriage. Kaz is not interested in being a boy on the side of Jay’s marriage, no matter how much he’s come to care for Jathan. Will Jathan and Kaz find a way to be together, or will losing the man Jathan’s grown to love be yet another price he must pay for saving the human race?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Final in the Golden Heart (or any contest)

Please welcome guest blogger Ann Roth

What’s all the fuss about finaling in a contest, anyway?

That depends on the contest, of course. Aside from providing useful feedback on your work, some contests offer the chance for finalists to be read and judged by prospective agents and/or editors. This is a great way to get your work in front of those folks.

Golden Heart finalist entries are not critiqued. (At one time they were, but that ended after one disgruntled entrant filed a lawsuit years ago.) They are read and judged by editors, who choose the winning entries for each category.

Even if you don’t win a Golden Heart, finaling in this contest is huge. Why, you may ask? Clout, baby. This contest packs a lot of it, and those who final are noticed by the professionals. (Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell everyone yourself.)

I finaled twice in the Golden Heart. The first time, I failed to take advantage of my status. I didn’t realize that notifying agents that I was a finalist would get me a “yes, please send the proposal” until after the contest. Not that finaling didn’t still pack clout.

The second time came way back in 1999. As soon as I hung up from the call, I shared the good news with everyone I could think of–agents and editors I’d queried, published author friends, writers’ loops, you name it. That year I won the Golden Heart for best long contemporary series romance.

Winning was a wonderful experience I’ll never forget. The following year I presented the Golden Heart to the next winner in best long contemporary series romance, which was also unforgettable. By then, my first romance was published by Silhouette Special Edition.

Trust me, if it happened to me, it can happen to you.

How exactly does one final in the Golden Heart?

Judging is, of course, a subjective process. But why not help your chances by making your entry shine?

It’s all about craft, and I’ve put together a week-long, nuts and bolts crash course on the ten things you need to do in order to make your entry and your entire story the best it can be. Stuff that will definitely help you to final in the Golden Heart, or any writing contest.

How to Final in the Golden Heart (or Any Contest), presented by Ann Roth, runs from June 13-19.

Award-winning author Ann Roth lives in the greater Seattle area with her husband. After earning an MBA, she worked as a banker and corporate trainer. She gave up the corporate life to write, and if they awarded PhDs in writing happily ever after stories, she'd have one. In 1999 Ann won the prestigious Golden Heart award for unpublished writers for best long contemporary series. Since then she has sold eighteen novels, both romance and women's fiction, a novella and a serialized online romance, as well as numerous short stories. For a list of published novels and other information, visit www.annroth.net

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Same But Different – Part II

Please welcome guest blogger Deborah Cooke

As I mentioned last fall in my blog post on FF&P, one of the challenges of writing an ongoing series is keeping each book distinctive, while still delivering to readers’ expectations of the series. Readers want a book that delivers the same balance of elements as previous books in the series, but want it to be fresh and different. I talked in that post about ways to distinguish those first books in a linked series from each other – with worldbuilding, the revelation of the history of the world, the future of the world, overall characterization as well as the characterization of the hero and heroine.

I personally dislike books in a series in which the parameters of the world don’t change – I like the series to take place over time, and to reflect the resolution of a greater conflict. Around about book #6 in a linked series is time to shake it up, in my opinion. And that’s certainly what’s happening in DARKFIRE KISS, Dragonfire #6, released this month.

So, what did I do?

Well, let’s talk first about about the series itself for those of you who haven’t read it. Dragonfire features a group of dragon shape shifting heroes. The Pyr, as they call themselves, are the custodians of the earth and the guardians of the four elements. The Pyr are virtually all men – the gene is dominant in the male line – and there is only one female dragon shifter at any given time. Since the Middle Ages – when they were hunted nearly to extinction – the Pyr have lived secretly amidst human society. These books are paranormal romances, so each book features one dragon shape shifter hero. Their mating process is called a firestorm – quite literally, sparks fly between the dragon shifter hero and his human mate. They are both driven by the lust fueled by the firestorm to consummate their relationship and conceive a son. The firestorm is all about biology, but each Pyr tends to learn that it takes more than sex to make a relationship – these are romances after all! The firestorm’s heat can also be felt by all of the dragon shifters, good and bad, so the bad ones come to interfere. The most vulnerable link is the human mate, and the easiest way to ensure that there are no more good dragon shifters is to eliminate the heroine. This means that each hero needs to tell the heroine the truth, seduce her and defend her simultaneously from attack. (I have a lot of fun writing these books.)

One of the issues with DARKFIRE KISS is the characterization of the hero. Rafferty is a continuing character in this series. He’s wise. He’s positive. He’s idealistic and romantic. He always plays for the dragon shape shifter team, yet he always yearns to meet his own destined mate. Virtually every reader letter I get is about Rafferty and his firestorm – as in “when is he going to get his?!” – and when I sat down to write his book, I knew I had a problem.

It was completely implausible that any human woman, fictional or otherwise, would be able to resist Rafferty. They’d be crazy in love by page ten and the book would be over in twenty pages. I couldn’t believe that any woman could resist Rafferty any longer than that.

So, I needed somehow to make Rafferty think twice about securing the romantic relationship he’d always dreamed of having – one that would make him question everything he believes in.

I don’t want to fill this post with spoilers, but the solution was to create an interior conflict for Rafferty. We know that he is completely loyal to the Pyr. We also know that he is an utter romantic, who will do whatever is necessary to win the heart of his destined mate. How could I make that mate be the worst thing that ever happened to the Pyr?

Well, first off, I made Melissa a journalist, with a camera and a blog. Guess what she sees? Guess what she photographs? Guess what she posts on her blog? All of a sudden, the dragon shifters who have been hidden from humans for a thousand years are revealed – by Rafferty’s mate!

Worse, it turns out there’s a prophecy. (There’s always a prophecy in a Dragonfire novel.) That prophecy is about “darkfire”, a strange light sparked by a firestorm and one that is destined to turn everything upside down and inside out until it’s extinguished – and darkfire isn’t extinguished very easily. Rafferty can’t just walk away – he has to go back to Melissa and consummate the firestorm, even knowing that will create his son. And that he can’t envision a future with the mother of his son, which means his son will not grow up as Rafferty always envisioned.

In the course of this book, darkfire makes Rafferty question whether his mate is really the right woman for him. It makes him question what he believes about the role of the Pyr in human society. It makes him doubt the possibilities – and it makes him choose, between his kind and their history, and his mate and the future. I love this kind of interior conflict. A hero’s ability to resolve it really shows his stuff – and it’s no spoiler that we already know Rafferty has the right stuff.

This twist is a very powerful element for Rafferty’s story, but it also changes the rules for subsequent stories. It opens many many cans of worms, a number of which I intend to explore in subsequent books. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s focus on only this one twist: the dragon shifters who have lived secretly amongst humans for a thousand years are finally revealed and documented – how will that change their role? How will they continue to fulfill their role as guardians of the elements and custodians of the earth? How will they live in human society? Will they all be known, or just some of them? There certainly will be dissent amongst the shifters – because you have to imagine that dragons have differing points of view, then express them eloquently and with heat – and that different individuals will make different choices.

The fact that the Pyr are revealed means that humans know about them. No longer will the hero of each book need to explain to the heroine what is going on and what he is. This will change the storytelling, allowing me to leap right into other conflicts. But more than that – there may be dragon stalkers, or fan girls, or women who really really want to be the mate of a dragon shape shifter. How fun is that complication?

There are lots of other twists that fall out of the darkfire and its prophecy, but you can probably already see how the twist refreshes the story line. I have a whole pocket full of new story ideas and conflicts, enough to take me through another six books at least. (And you can read DARKFIRE KISS to catch a glimpse of the other challenges to the world of Dragonfire.)

So, when you think the books in a series are becoming similar in conflict and tone, I urge you to think about mixing it up and changing the rules. Undermine the pins of your worldbuilding and see where that takes you. You might find some very interesting story ideas!

Deborah Cooke has always been fascinated with dragons, although she has never understood why they have to be the bad guys. She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels, and has written over forty romance novels and novellas. She has also been published under the name Claire Cross and continues to be published as Claire Delacroix. In October and November 2009, Deborah was the writer in residence for the Toronto Public Library, the first time that the library has hosted a residency focussed on the romance genre.

Deborah has three websites (http://www.deborahcooke.com for Dragonfire, http://www.thedragondiaries.com for The Dragon Diaries YA series and http://www.delacroix.net for Claire Delacroix work) and posts regularly to her blog, Alive & Knitting at http://www.delacroix.net/blog Her current release is DARKFIRE KISS, book #6 in the Dragonfire series, and June will see the release of her first YA, FLYING BLIND.

Darkfire Kiss

Rafferty Powell has exchanged challenge coins with his arch-nemesis Magnus Montmorency, and their next battle will be their last. But Rafferty never expected to meet a woman whose desire for Magnus’ downfall matches his own—and whose presence sparks Rafferty’s long-awaited firestorm.

Since facing her own mortality, investigative reporter Melissa Smith has resolved to live without fear. She’s determined to make the seemingly untouchable Magnus pay for his role in ending her friend’s life – no matter the price to herself.

When her quest entwines with Rafferty’s, Melissa finds herself risking more than she ever thought possible. Because the heat between them unleashes the darkfire—an awesome force of Pyr legend, one that won’t be sated until everything they know has been tested and remade.